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What kind of privacy do you have in the workplace?

The right to privacy is a cherished American value. Especially with the omnipresence of technology in our lives, it can feel like the matter of privacy becomes more and more important. Everyone has a camera. Everyone is talking or texting or emailing. 

When it comes to communications and overall privacy in the workplace, what should workers know? What aspect of their lives at work is private, and how could an employer violate an employee's right to privacy?

Phone calls

Your employer can monitor your work phone calls. The sticking point is that employees must be notified that their communications over the phone will be recorded and/or monitored. You should not be surprised or feel tricked by an employer recording your calls. 

Another right to privacy an employer should provide is the right to not have your personal calls recorded. An exception within that point is if your place of work has a strict personal call policy. But even then, no one should listen to the duration of your personal conversation. A higher-up may, however, still reprimand you for having engaged in such a call when there is a policy in place against personal phone calls.

Emails

More and more work communications take place via email. Whether it is between you and a client, a manager or a co-worker, you should know that emails are generally not treated as private in a workplace. This rule applies to web chats that you might utilize to communicate with co-workers. 

This is important to remember. Chats and emails can feel private. Especially when you are friends with a co-worker, it can be tempting to write things to them as though you were talking while outside of the office. Try to save the comedy and personal stories for when you are truly outside of work and outside of work-related communications.

An upcoming post will continue this discussion about privacy in the workplace. There are still the matters of video and even drug testing to discuss. Check back soon. 

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